By Steve Silverman
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The New York Giants will report to training camp July 21 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
That’s when Tom Coughlin and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo will start to put their offseason plans in motion on a full-time basis.
They tried to do that at the recently completed minicamp, but it’s difficult to get a true feel for any team until the players are working together every day in camp and they start to come together as a functioning unit.
McAdoo, who supposedly earned this position after working with Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, was hired to fix the Giants’ offense. That’s a huge responsibility, and the Giants basically hired the 37-year-old to do two things:
* He is going to install a version of the West Coast offense that also has quite a few elements of power football
* He is also going to attempt to fix Eli Manning
Installing a new offense is a difficult task for any coordinator. You have to rid your players of old habits and teach them new techniques. You have to make sure all the position coaches know what is expected, because they are going to be the ones who are fine-tuning all the players. McAdoo — and stop if you have heard this one before — is very hard working and thorough. That’s how all first-time coordinators get described.
He understands what the offense is supposed to look like, but the key is making sure his personnel understand all the principles and that position coaches know how to make on-the-field corrections.
Perhaps the two best head coaches ever to do that were Don Shula and the late Tom Landry. Like many coaches of his era, Shula, during his time with the Baltimore Colts and in the early years with Miami Dolphins, would stop practice regularly when he spotted a mistake and demonstrate himself the right way to do something.
Shula was hawk-like as he watched practice. He had the sharpest eyes and caught nearly every mistake.
Landry may have been even sharper. He would not call out a player on the field in practice, but he would give his assistant coaches a look when he spotted a mistake and the assistant would attempt to fix that mistake immediately. If the player did not respond appropriately, he might be called in for a talk with Landry, who would plainly explain what he expected to see the next time out. If he did not get those expected results, there was a good chance that player would be demoted or cut shortly thereafter.
It’s much different now, because coaches can show the players the mistakes they are making on film, demonstrate how the corrections can be made and then track the progress. The threat of a young or unproven player being cut is always there, but when coaches can teach with so much precision, they can reach players much easier and find a way to get a player to reach his potential.
Which brings us to Eli. You don’t have to be a football genius to realize that you are not going to win in the NFL without an effective performance by the quarterback.
Manning, 33, was one of the most ineffective quarterbacks in the league last season and he was a big reason why the Giants finished 7-9. Certainly, he had plenty of company as the offensive line was ineffective and often forced him to run for his life. But Manning cannot escape the lion’s share of the blame.
Let’s look back at the painful numbers. Manning completed 317 of 551 passes for 3,818 yards with an atrocious 18-27 TD-interception ratio. Under the NFL’s passer rating formula, those numbers produced a woeful 69.4 rating. That means 34 other quarterbacks had a better rating than Eli.
And it wasn’t just last season, either. Even though he led the Giants to two Super Bowl championships and he was twice voted MVP of the big game, Manning has had a passer rating below 90.0 in eight of his 10 seasons.
Manning’s best statistical season was 2009, when he had a 93.1 rating. That’s not an elite season, as 157 NFL quarterbacks have registered better seasons than Manning’s best statistical year.
While some of those players include celebrated names like Steve Young, Joe Montana, brother Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Y.A. Tittle (for the long-time Giants fans), that figure has also been bested by Daunte Culpepper, Chad Pennington, Brian Griese, Trent Green, Jim Harbaugh and (gulp!) Josh Freeman.
McAdoo has a big job to do this season, and he is fully confident. However, fixing Manning may not be possible at this point. He may be smart, affable and hard working, but he is on a downhill slide and it’s very tough to turn it around once things have started to go wrong.
While Eli has played exceptional football in the Super Bowl, regular season games have been confounding him for a while. If he had All-Pros on the offensive line and at the skill positions, he might have a chance.
But turning it around in 2014 will be the most difficult of assignments, and unless McAdoo is truly a miracle man, another painful season will be at hand for Big Blue.
Follow Steve on Twitter at @ProFootballBoy
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